I stopped by the USB Implementers Forum booth, where they had both an interesting non-final demonstration of the new USB Power Delivery specification and some news about the new 10 Gbps USB 3.0 development specification. First, the 10 Gbps USB 3.0 development announcement stipulates continued use of the same cables and connectors for higher throughput, and although there will be a 10 Gbps certification program for cables the USB-IF expects almost all but the lowest end cables to pass without any reworking. I'm told that the newer revision enables 10 Gbps by using more efficient coding and also enables improved power efficiency. 

The standard is in development presently and should be completed by the middle of the year. It will then take the normal development cycle for silicon and controllers to make it onto the market. The USB 3.0 specification stipulates a meter long cable that's entirely passive, as opposed to other active solutions on the market presently. Longer lengths will require active componentry. 

I also wasn't aware but earlier this year the USB-IF finished the SSIC (SuperSpeed Inter Chip) specification which is essentially the USB 3.0 analog of HSIC (HighSpeed Inter Chip - USB 2.0). This is hugely important for smartphones and tablets where the limits of HSIC are already being encroached upon or actively hit with certain 2x2 802.11a/b/g/n combos, and will be a problem with 802.11ac combos. In addition I fully expect to see future SoCs implement SSIC for use with both these 802.11ac combos and faster 3GPP Release 10 or Category 4 basebands where there is a lot of attention as throughput continues to increase. 

Next up was a demonstration of the USB Power Delivery (PD1.0) specification working in conjunction with display driving. The USB-IF modified a Lenovo X300 notebook to accept power through USB 3.0 and the PD specification, and used a power delivery mechanism on the middle display to both power it, and the notebook with 65W. At the end of the daisy chain was a thumb drive plugged into the last monitor's hub which was available to read on the notebook. 

The X300 was running Vista oddly enough, which took a while to enumerate and connect to the other two displays, but did indeed simultaneously drive both a 1080p and 2048x1156 display through a daisy chain with good fluidity for a non-final demo. This combination of specifications is clearly USB-IF's response to Thunderbolt, and looks like a possibly even more impressive solution thanks to the ability to simultaneously drive the displays and charge the notebook over one cable.

Source: USB-IF (Power Delivery) (USB 3.0 10 Gbps)

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  • DanNeely - Sunday, January 13, 2013 - link

    Even though USB3 has enough bandwidth to drive a monitor well (USB2 wasn't even close); as a low cost solution it still struggles due to a lack of QoS guarantees because it has to wait for the CPU to become available to do anything.
  • toyotabedzrock - Sunday, January 13, 2013 - link

    I'd prefer a network approach for all that.
  • repoman27 - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    Well perhaps USB hasn't been standardized as a native display interface because it isn't a native display interface, it's a general purpose serial bus. Also, due to protocol overhead, USB 3.0 SuperSpeed mode provides less usable bandwidth than single-link DVI or HDMI prior to version 1.3.

    What baffles me is the statement that, "the newer revision enables 10 Gbps by using more efficient coding." This makes absolutely no sense seeing as advertised USB speeds have always been the physical layer gross bitrate. In which case using less efficient encoding would actually make it easier for them to hit their target. 4b10b would allow them to hit 10 Gbit/s in no time.
  • jmardian - Saturday, July 27, 2013 - link

    Yes, yes,yes to "Act as Monitor mode."
  • amb9800 - Sunday, January 13, 2013 - link

    Any sense of how the USB-IF / OEMs plan to brand/market USB power solutions? How will consumers know which USB ports can provide power, which can take power, and how much (i.e. the different profiles)?

    I see the spec no longer fixes power direction, but if I wanted to plug in, say, an extra backup battery to my laptop via USB (as are currently available for smartphones), that would presumably have to be plugged into the special power-input-enabled USB port, not just any port?

    The site also says they envision things like printers (presumably small inkjets) being powered by USB-- but I assume they' mean USB ports in hubs / bricks, not laptops (will a laptop be able to output 36 or 60W?). So if someone markets a printer as being USB-powerable, how will one communicate the requirements?

    This sounds really cool, and I'd love to consolidate power bricks- just wondering how they plan to avoid completely confusing consumers.
  • epobirs - Sunday, January 13, 2013 - link

    I assume the color coding scheme will be expanded beyond the blue for USB 3.0 ports and red on some boards for devices like the iPad that support higher power modes.

    There will probably be a distinct set of features that are only active when on mains power rather than the battery. Only having to find one power outlet for everything would be convenient.
  • KitsuneKnight - Sunday, January 13, 2013 - link

    There's USB:
    Low Speed (1.5 Mb)
    Full Speed (12 Mb)
    High Speed (480 Mb)
    Super Speed (5.0 Gb)

    So what's this new one going to be called? Hyper Speed? Ultra Speed? And will the ports be colored differently, so you'll know what's 10 Gb vs 5 Gb vs USB 2/1.1?
  • r3loaded - Sunday, January 13, 2013 - link

    SuperDuper Speed obviously.
  • IanCutress - Sunday, January 13, 2013 - link

    Notice that High Speed is faster than Full Speed (!).

    I hope they renumber the new spec to USB 3.1 or something. Make it easier to differentiate.
  • MonkeyPaw - Sunday, January 13, 2013 - link

    Ludicrous speed.

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